Lay volunteers honored with Immaculata Awards

   “He’s been here a long time,” commented Father Chryst. “He’s dependable and a responsible leader in the Spanish Apostolate.”

   Joseph Murabito has served St. Joseph’s Church in Oswego for most of his life. “I’ve been volunteering for over 85 years,” said Murabito, who is now 90. “I’d still be volunteering if I could still do the work.”

   As a child, Murabito was an altar server and then moved on to a junior usher. It wasn’t long before he was leading the entire usher ministry.

   “They needed people and I was able to do what was needed,” stated Murabito. “I don’t deserve any more praise than anyone else who would do the same.”

   Although now retired from his volunteer efforts at the church due to health concerns, Murabito made a lasting impression on St. Joseph’s staff and parishioners.

   “Joe was instrumental in forming our ministry of funeral servers,” said Father Gregory Kreinheder, pastor of St. Joseph’s. “Thousands in our parish over the years have experienced the fruits of his efforts.”

   Patricia Pilon, parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul in Syracuse, is being commended for 30 years of service to her parish.

   “I’m excited and humbled at the same time,” Pilon said.

   Pilon has been involved in many aspects of parish life. In 1956, when she became a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul, she immediately got involved in the music ministry by singing in the contemporary folk group of which she now serves as leader. Afterwards she branched out into other ministries. She has served on the pastoral council and the liturgy, finance, refugee and peace and justice committees. She has also served as a trustee and has donated her time updating the parish’s bookkeeping system.  

   “I believe that if we have received gifts and talents from God, we need to gift them to others,” Pilon said.

   Kathy Tait, of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Binghamton, is a busy woman. She volunteers as a small group facilitator for the parish’s Good News People program, helps with funeral luncheons and Rosary group and visits residents in local nursing homes — and that’s just the beginning of her long list of activities at the parish. It’s no wonder why Father Timothy J. Taugher nominated this dedicated volunteer for an Immaculata Award.

   “Kathy was a long-time active member at St. Christopher’s and is a dependable volunteer who is now fully engaged in St. Francis of Assisi. She serves as a lector and a greeter at our weekend liturgies, a small group facilitator for our scripture study and volunteers for our Harvest Dinner,” stated Father Taugher in his nomination form.

   “The best thing about working for the parish is that it’s God-centered and Jesus-centered,” stated Tait. “I love working with the parishioners; each one of them is like being in the presence of angels because you can see God in all of them.”

   Tait is quick to point out that she really doesn’t deserve the award. She feels instead that the entire parish deserves it.

   “Everyone is doing so much inside and outside of the parish. I am doing just what is expected. I don’t do anything that’s extraordinary, just what God is expecting me to do.”

   When asked which volunteer activity is her favorite, Tait doesn’t hesitate. “I love being a greeter. I love the transformation that takes place when someone comes in and it’s obvious they are having a bad day. All you have to do is say, ‘Welcome’ and they just start smiling. Everything I do I get ten times more out of it than I put it into it. God has a tricky way of doing that — giving you more than you put in.”

   Henry and Marie McCann have been volunteering at St. John the Evangelist since they arrived in New Hartford in 1958. Prior to becoming parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, Henry (Hank) and his wife of 66 years, Marie, had been attending a small mission church in Morrisville, but once they became parishioners at St. John the Evangelist, “It was like coming home,” said Marie.

   Hank is an altar server, a former parish council member and is a trustee for the church. Marie is a daily lector and was involved in the Mother’s Group as both a member and past president. Both Hank and Marie are Eucharistic Ministers and have been active in the volunteer visitation ministry to the nursing home and homebound parishioners.

   “The Catholic faith is important to us,” said Hank. “You have to do your part and get involved. That was a habit we got into early in our marriage and it has just continued through the years,” he said.

   Both Hank and Marie have been actively involved in the Christian Family Movement (CFM). “Our social life was through the CFM and we made friends there who have lasted a lifetime,” stated Hank. “We were always involved and still are. If someone wanted a fish fry, we’d put on a fish fry. We still put on the St. Patrick’s Day covered dish dinner, along with another couple, but if there’s a pancake breakfast or a church supper, we’re happy to work at it,” he added.

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